Tag Archives: Poker Blog

WSOP 2017 Adventures (part 1)

1 Aug

I’m sat in a bar in San Jose watching Scott Blumstein catch a 2 on the river and win the WSOP Main Event for $8,150,000 and officially closing the proceedings at the Rio for 2017. Like pretty much every poker player around the world, you imagine this moment with you as the main protagonist, but accept that this year wasn’t your year to win the main.

2017 World Series of Poker

Scott Blumstein – WSOP Main Event 2017 Winner

Let’s jump back to late June though, when I arrived in Vegas with a schedule and a dream…

After one year, it was great to be back in Vegas with a whole host of games before me. The plan was to play 2 bracelet events (WSOP Ladies & the ME) and lots of smaller tournaments at various casinos.

I would be here for the next 18 days or so and couldn’t wait to get to the tables.

I’ve stayed at a ton of different places in Vegas over the years, mainly for pleasure and each have their own benefits vs. cost and convenience.

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The Wynn 

After leaving it later than I planned and weighing up options I booked any initial 10 days at the Wynn at a super good rate. I’d worry about the week after that further down the line.

It was a good choice, the Wynn was the nicest place I’ve stayed on the strip; it has a measured balance of class, never being too busy and good service. Also the standard rooms are very spacious, beautifully decorated and very quiet, which is important when getting good nights sleep between the poker sessions.

 

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With Dara & Traian at a beautiful buffet room @Wynn 

But most importantly it had the Wynn Summer Classic running with some great structured games and decent fields you love to play against.

As always I spent my first couple of days sleeping off Jetlag ( I hate playing and being tired) and catching up with friends already there.

After a couple of fun lunches and dinners with Unibet team I ended up (against my better judgement) taking a helicopter ride across the strip with my friend Dara who had this included in a package he had won playing online and kindly invited me to join him.

I’m not great with heights, but a flight across the strip is a fascinating overview of all that Vegas is famous for and definitely an experience to recommend, even if I was glad to get my feet back on the ground.

Anyhow, onto poker and my initial few games. With the Wynn catering to my penchant to getting up late and then jumping into well structured games- it made sense to start there.

My first game was a $600 $250k GTD Wynn Summer Classic event with over 900 runners. I was comfortable with my starting table -also finally I was running better than the proceeding months leading up to Vegas. Like all players you play your way through these patches knowing that if you keep doing things right, things will fall into place a little more over time.

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Happy face after first cash of the trip 🙂

I won a couple of flips and had a full double up with Q10ss when flopping trips v AA.

I comfortably made day 2 with a decent stack and was eyeing the payouts on my return; there was over $80k for first place!

Unfortunately day 2 didn’t go to plan and I bust in a cooler spot when running my sub 20bb stack into QQ for a min cash. Nevertheless I was feeling very positive and happy about a great start to the trip and I was looking forward to the next game.

The next day I was back downstairs in the Wynn for the tasty buffet with Marc & Dara and then we decided to head to Nataly’s room for a friendly poker game 🙂

 

It was a fun day off before another session at theWynn. This time $400, $50k GTD one day event where Marc Convey & I both made it to the money. We had a great time playing at the Wynn poker room; the venue is spacious, clean and modern and it’s always great atmosphere there.  They provide prompt and efficient table service including drinks such as hot chocolate, smoothies and Fiji water and they have very competent TD’s.

After locking the second cash of the trip, It was time for some late night dinner with friends and some rest. Next day I played another game at the Wynn and grinded may way to 16th place & another cash. I was in the zone and warming up for the WSOP events 🙂

After my husband John arrived Sunday we enjoyed dinner with Kenny Halleart, Nataly & Marc at one of my favorite restaurants in Las Vegas –  LAVO. It was good catching up with Kenny and hearing all about his intense WSOP schedule & a very successful summer so far over tasty Italian food & wine. Well done to Kenny who ended up having another impressive run in the Main Event finishing 64th/7221 for over $100k.

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Dinner at LAVO

Monday it was time for a change of scenery and over to Planet Hollywood for the $250k guaranteed which was probably going to end up more like $500k and with a field you really want to play against. I started pretty well , but then ended up card dead and losing two flips to bust early in the evening. It was frustrating, but also you don’t mind running not so well in the smaller tournaments, especially when you have fun playing and meeting interesting people & making new friends 🙂

Tuesday it was back for another bullet at Planet Hollywood to no avail and a trip to Nobu with John and Dara + his lovely wife Mireille to drink cocktails and have a fun evening of quality sushi and chat. It was 4th of July (Independance Day in the US) and although it was crazy busy on the strip we managed to get a sneaky view of some beautiful fireworks for a perfect ending to a fun night.

Next morning I was off to play the Helix Ladies event. They had for reasons that only they could explain decided to hold it at Harrah’s which has a massive 7 poker tables in the room.

When you have 50 alternates, you realise you are wasting your time and hopefully the Helix ladies game will have a more suitable location for 2018, as myself and friends would loved to have played, but ultimately couldn’t.

Jumping into another game at Planet Hollywood with my lovely friends Charlie & Natalia took care of the rest of the day. I really enjoyed hanging out with the girls & it’s a shame we didn’t get much luck in this game and bust late on short of the money.  I headed back to the Wynn for some sleep prior to the upcoming Ladies WSOP event, one of my favourites of the year…..TBC

Unibet Open Copenhagen

14 Jun

Following a sunny few days in Barcelona, I was on my way to Copenhagen for more sunshine and poker.

It was my first time visiting this Scandinavian city which I had heard so many good things about and I was looking forward to seeing if it lived up to the hype almost as much as participating in another Unibet Open stop!

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I arrived at the Radisson Blu Copenhagen on Monday afternoon which was to be my home for the next week and the site of a whole load of poker and drinks before the week was out.

It was located very centrally with great views across the city. After settling in I headed for dinner with my fellow Unibet Ambassadors and spent the evening catching up on the least few weeks with everyone.

The following day after some media stuff, we headed out into the immediate area to explore the city and film some content for upcoming videos.

With a beautiful lake and trees juxtaposed to the city we weren’t short of locations to film in, and we began to imbue some of the easy going Danish lifestyle strolling in the sunshine.

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The streets were full of cyclists everywhere you looked and people just strolling about in the sunshine.  An astonishing 50% of commuters in Copenhagen cycle to work and back. It seemed the roads were quiet and calm, without the usual noise of a busy capital city.

It some ways it felt like a town, but it offers most of what you could wish for in a big city. We walked down the inlet canals to the main harbour area and settled at the huge street food market inside an old dockside warehouse called Papirøen.

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There were tons of stalls inside and loads of seating outside next to the waterside with views across the city. We bought a few different foods from around the world and settled into the deckchairs outside to relax in the sunshine.

With an outdoor DJ and an ice cold cider, there wasn’t anything not to like!

After a couple more days of work and exploring the city with repeat visits to Papirøen, it was swiftly Thursday and time for day 1a of the Unibet Open main event.

After breakfast  I returned to my room to find a lovely surprise waiting for me from the Unibet Poker Events Team. A box jammed full with cool branded ‘Ambassador’s’ attire and goodies. With a big smile on my face I changed into my new branded ‘run good’ hoodie and headed down for day 1a.

I decided to play this as I had many friends from the women’s poker community for Unibet that I run online playing that day too. I was excited to see them and  hanging out on breaks.

I had a reasonable start to the tournament, calling down a player with with mid pair on a Q,6,3, 10, Q board who had barrelled 3 streets with A high. My stack remained healthy until taking a dent from a bit of a cooler with AQ v KK on a queen high flop.

I spent the rest of the day on 20bb-30bb with mainly junk and a few ups and downs; In the home country of Hans Christian Andersen however, there was to be no fairytale ending to the day for me 😦

After a big pot missing the flush, I lost my first flip for the rest of my stack, busting just before the end of the first day.

 

 

 

As always though, busting the main is bitter sweet. The welcome drinks party for players was already in full swing, I had a good time chatting with Kenny Hallaert about his great run to the final table of last year’s WSOP Main Event final table.

It is always interesting to get the perspective and advice from a player going so deep in the flagship event. I also got to spend a lot of time with Romanian cash game player Ioana Apostol and Norwegian poker player & blogger Fiona Sand (in the picture above).

It was fascinating to find out more about their background and their future plans. After yet another trip to the all-night petrol station next to the casino for late night munchies at 3am, it was time to get some sleep.

Friday being a free day, a public holiday in Copenhagen and 27 degrees there was only one place I wanted to head. A group of the day 1a players and ambassadors headed back to Papirøen to sit outside, eat loads of food and enjoy cocktails and wine.

The atmosphere was great and I was surrounded by cool and fun loving Danes and great chill out tunes. Regardless to say we stayed all day and didn’t head back to the hotel and casino to the evening.

After trying a very cool game of VR poker against my husband John in the specially set up VR room from Unibet, we headed to the bar to catch up with players and friends.

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Saturday was another beautiful day, and we had planned some video content on boats, but everyone else had got there first so they were all booked out. I headed to have a coffee and film an interview in the sunshine.

Oh, btw I stumbled across this little gem round the corner from the hotel where I had the best coffee ever called – Roast Coffee -which you must try next time you are in the city!

With media work wrapped up, John, me and Dara headed over to Tivoli in the centre of Copenhagen.

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Tivoli Amusement Park

Denmark has won the happiest country in the world award a number of times. I can’t think of another country that has a giant amusement park in the middle of the city, THE MIDDLE OF THE CITY! Now if that isn’t a correlation to making people the happiest on earth then I’ll be surprised!

Enjoying some rides, performances on stage from local children choirs and drinks in the sunshine, I headed for filming with Espen and John and Dara shot off to watch the FA Cup final.

Work done I headed back to see the players in the main who had made the money which included my friend Davis Rinkevicius who was still going strong.

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At Tivoli gardens with Espen

Having skipped the Saturday side event, next up was the Unibet community event which is always a ton of fun. With staff and players from Unibet and occasional wild card it is full of banter, drinks and bluffs!

John’s tactic of hyper aggression to get knocked out so he could dash off to watch the Kell Brook v Errol Spence fight really wasn’t going to plan.

With ever more chips and the ring walk imminent his hand starting range mirrored that of a punch-drunk boxer.

Eventually busting in 3rd and sprinting to the nearest Irish bar, it was down to heads up.

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Final table of the Unibet Community side event 🙂

 

I’m happy to say we ended up with the first female winner of the community event, in her first ever game- so congrats to Julia Griffin 🙂

After that it was time to head to the Unibet players party in a cool nightclub in Copenhagen.

As always it was a mixture of shots, chatting, dancing, shots, new friends, old friends and shots. By the time it was 4.30am it was time to head out for the obligatory sausage in a roll and ketchup from the convenient van outside.

I was now beginning to understand how Danes eat an average of 42 sausages a year- temptation is everywhere!

Sunday came with the standard slightly hurting head and a trip to the commentary booth to cover the final table of the main event.

There was a wide selection of nationalities represented from Denmark to the lesser known Faroe Islands. I was rooting for my Lithuanian friend Deivis and the last female player standing.

Next up was the progressive bounty KO event which was short and sweet for me at least. After securing a bounty, I ended up running 99 into KK in late position looking for another bounty and short stacked; following that a bounty hunter quickly gobbled up my remaining chips.

Congrats to my friend Dehlia de Jong who went deep and finished 10th in the end to get a Danish flag!

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With Dehlia 🙂

Also well played and huge congrats to Estonian player Kaarel Lepik who took down the Unibet open main event for a $84,980 first place prize after coming back from a nearly 12:1 chip deficit.

After a trip for a tasty lunch to Geist ( recommended by Ferran Adrià no less) in Copenhagen centre on Monday, it was time to leave this great city which it also seemed the sunshine had finally decided to do also.

 

 

 

It had been another fun leg. Any Unibet Open stop is the perfect combination of discovering, exploring and enjoying a new city (or returning to an old favourite) and playing poker with some of the friendliest people you’ll meet at the tables. Roll on the next one and a super special stop 🙂

Before that, next blog will be about the UK Poker Tour in Glasgow…

Easter in Lithuania and the Millions

9 May

I try to go and see my family for Easter every year as we have so many beautiful traditions back home celebrating it and it is also a good excuse as any to spend some quality time with the loved ones.

In Lithuania (and many other countries I’m sure) it is a custom to hard boil some white shelled eggs and then we make them look pretty by painting and decorating them with the beeswax and onion shells.

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The following morning on Easter Sunday you bash your personally painted eggs against other peoples and the one which doesn’t break after the round, wins!

Think a strange conker based Easter contest, and you are pretty much there 🙂 It is believed that the person with the strongest egg will have the best health for the year.

Easter morning we woke up to snow, which was a nice surprise. It was the first time in years it had snowed at Easter, and it added an extra romance to the traditional visit to church, where they had a fantastic tree decorated with 7500 eggs outside the venue!

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Easter Tree 🙂

 

We spent the rest of the day celebrating with friends and family, plenty of food and drinks and also I had my God-Daughter staying for the evening with us which was lovely.

Even at Easter there is time for poker, and Sunday evening I played day 1 of the Party Poker Millions online. It was a tough, late night game with Lithuania being 2 hours ahead, but happily I made it through to the live day 2 and before I knew it, I was saying goodbye to the family and heading back home and on to Nottingham.

I was feeling confident and excited about going to Nottingham as lots of my poker mates I had not seen for a while were going to be there and also because I was heading with the dream of being the player that walks out of Dusk till Dawn poker room with £1million pounds for shipping the tournament.

As it turns out, another woman got to experience that amazing feeling instead.

When I arrived at my starting table for day 2 of the main event I seriously couldn’t believe the table draw.

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Pretty sure Martin Jacobson was looking to min cash 🙂

I have a feeling it was one of the toughest starting tables in the room which included just the 3 ‘November Niners’ –  James Akenhead, Martin Jacobson and Sylvain Loosli, plus some other capable players as expected.

As anticipated it was rather aggressive table with higher than average opening and 3betting frequency from the very start. This worked well for me as I was playing 25bb stack and was looking for spots to exploit this.

I made some chips when getting a light 3bet through and then won a decent pot when defending BB and calling two streets with a bluff catcher.

It was all going to plan till I picked up AhKc and decided to slow play- calling a raise in order to induce a squeeze from the very active players to my left. Unfortunately for me after a little deliberation, the squeeze wasn’t forthcoming and regardless of flopping top pair and top kicker I ended up busting to QJ who turned a flush and I could not hit any of my 11 outs on the river for survival.

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I was rather disappointed I didnt have a deeper run but I was happy with my play and was playing with some of the best players in the world.

I spent the rest of the day catching up with mates over some food and compulsory wine whilst also enjoying a very entertaining football match between Man United v Anderlecht as my friends Gary and Lee are big fans and United is my default team 🙂

Next day I discovered one of the nicest coffee shops/restaurants in Nottingham called Delilah which Gary had recommended to me.

It was set in an old Victorian building serving all the fine foods and local produce. It was good to see a different part of Nottingham, and it is exciting I’ll be back to explore more as Unibet have made this a stop on their UK Poker Tour later this year!

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Delilah Fine Foods

After a healthy & tasty brunch at Delilah I decided to head back to DTD for the 8-Max side event which had a 1 million guaranteed prizepool and was likely to have an overlay.

We swapped some action with my friend Lee Atherton and off we went to chase dreams again!

I had a cheerful table with lots of banter and fun play. I also had an early double up with flopped 2 pair v turned 2 pair and since then never looked back and ended up cruising to day 2 with a healthy stack.

Chips bagged and sealed I headed to the players party to join the rest and get some exercise in whilst dancing the night away 🙂

It was a beautiful day on Saturday and I had an easy morning doing some yoga, window shopping and enjoying some great coffee and pastries outside in the sunshine. I went back to DTD feeling positive and confident with the hopes for a great day.

I had a decent starting table and was ticking along ok till I lost 22bb with AQss v 78ss aipf and then I was hovering around 35bb stack before getting moved to a new table.

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Philipp Gruissem focused!

Philipp Gruissem was sitting two to my left and was no doubt the most experienced player there with over $10mil in Hendon Mob cashes under his belt.

It was cool watching him being totally composed and in control when grinding his short stack. He made an awesome hero call for his tournament life to get back in contention and start bossing the table just before I got moved again.

The atmosphere in the room was getting a bit tighter and more intense and the play was slowing down as we were approaching the bubble. We were 5 away from the money when I picked up KK and got it all in pre-flop. The other guy had AQ; Ace on the flop and gg for me 😦

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I was gutted…. Not with Kings again! Sigh… I seem to be on this curse where I either run into KK or get them cracked for an exit.

Luckily for me the bar was still open and I had lots of friends around to cheer me up…. Also my friend Lee cashed so it wasn’t all bad.

Sunday was my last day in Nottingham and all about the Ladies event which I was very much looking forward to.

Plus there was a final table of the Millions Main even running at the same time and it was amazing to see two great female players still in the mix including my friend Katie Swift representing the UK female poker community 🙂

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Katie Swift

 

 

Although I lost a flip to bubble the Ladies final table, I had a great time catching up with friends and seeing Maria pick up the biggest trophy and the biggest pay out outside the highroller buy in events in Europe.

It was a superb week for women in poker with Katie finishing in 7th for £100k, Maria Lampropoulou winning the Main Event for a whooping one Million and Sylvia Hewitt coming 5th in the 6-max side event for £20k.

Everyone should know by now that I’m passionate on getting more women into the game and this was a tremendous advertisement for what women can achieve!

Hopefully more female players will return to the felt or make the first steps into the live arena.

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I will be heading to Barcelona in a few days for a friend’s wedding and then the Unibet Open in Copenhagen at the end of May. I look forward to seeing some of you there 🙂

Brighton

10 Apr

I flew back in from Cape Town on Saturday morning and after a couple of hours kip at home & a frantic luggage re-pack I was on my way to Brighton for the kick off of the Unibet UK Poker Tour 2017. I was determined to last longer in the tournament than the flight, so I needed to make day 2 as a minimum 🙂

Brighton is a place that holds many fond memories for me and I was both excited and feeling rather nostalgic going back to the city where it all started for me.

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Brighton

I lived in Brighton for 5 years after originally moving to the UK in 2001.  I worked there before and during going to university completing my degree in Business whilst very much enjoying a student life in this vibrant & bohemian city.

Brighton is also the place where I met my husband and where I played a game of poker for the first time. I used to make some extra cash by hanging out at the local casinos playing £5- £20 tournament games and dreaming of a future as a poker pro.

So here I was, going back to my old home town in my new role as Ambassador for Unibet which has led me to reminisce about all the random jobs, crazy times & hard work I had to put up with whilst striving towards my dreams and I got thinking about how these related to poker…

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Waitress in a very popular seafood restaurant: Like a turbo tournament in a smaller Vegas casino- way too busy for my liking, too many people shouting and of course- being surrounded by fish…

Bar Tender in a popular cocktail bar : Pretty much like busting the Unibet Open– having loads of fun standing at the bar chatting to people, doing shots, drinking wine and getting to bed at 4am before being back up for work early once again the next morning 🙂

Modelling – catwalk +editorial shoots: When you get the most unfriendly table in a tournament. Surrounded by rude and pretentious people for hours on end, waiting around playing only a few hands before min-cashing and realising it wasn’t worth it anyway.

Sales person in a shoe shop: Convincing people that they are looking good with their choices and then paying you off at the end of it as you talk them into a call when you hold the nuts.

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Cashier at a late-night bar:  Pretty much like playing online poker in 2007. Taking money off drunk people, working into the early hours of the morning, drinking coffee to stay awake and counting the money at the end of the evening.

Selling double glazing windows door-to-door – the worst job i did! – Like your first live game of poker- no training, not being sure what exactly you are meant to be doing, getting berated by people for your mistakes and making nothing at the end of it. I lasted one day in this job which ended with this classic interchange with my manager:

Manager:”how is it going?”

Me: “well”.

Manager: “whereabouts are you?”

Me: “the beach:)))”

Thankfully poker came to the rescue! As I started to be successful online and then do better in live tournaments I got an insight into what it was like to do a job you enjoyed and be well recompensed at the end of it. This certainly helped as I finished my degree and left Brighton to move to London and the next part of my adventures in life.

Anyhow this trip down memory lane completed I was obviously really pleased Unibet had picked Brighton as one of their stops for the UK Poker Tour 2017 (not just once but twice) and I was looking forward going back to my roots & maybe even seeing a few familiar faces at the tables from the old days.

Brighton is also know as “Little London by the sea” famous for it’s beaches, culture and an amazing night life. I was excited for the players who were coming to this place for the first time.

There was so much on offer with tons of fun activities alongside poker. I find that busting a tournament is never as bad if you can stroll down a pier afterwards and tuck into some of the most delicious fish and chips in the country.

Find out what Unibet Ambassadors did get up to in the video below:)

 

Unsurprisingly the event was a huge success and the £220 Main Event has attracted 261 players which smashed the £40k guarantee by creating a £52,200 prize pool.

My poker journey this time, regardless of home ground edge, didn’t go to plan 😦 I did make day 2 but then lost a big flip for most chips & then ran AJ into KK for the rest.

It was a great final table though, with a perfect mix of online qualifiers, recreational players & some pros. I was especially delighted to see 3 female players still in fighting for the title, trophy & £14,090 cash!

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Final table baby!

Local hero Deborah Worley-Roberts seemed to have the biggest rail but unfortunately bust in 3rd for a decent £6,140 payday.

Well done to eventual winner Mateusz Krzyzewski from Poland who secured his trip to Brighton for only €25 at Unibet Poker. It shows how you can spin up the smallest amount, to a barrel of cash and get to visit some great places and meet fun people whilst doing it!

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The champ Mateusz Krzyzewski with the runner up Renata Jack

It was great to have a professional photographer (Tambet Kask) & a hard working content team on board so everyone who is interested in this tournament could follow fun & accurate updates online whilst supporting & railing their favorites.

This does not usually happen in smaller buy-in events & it was great to see Unibet being the pioneers of this!

I look forward to returning in October for some poker, fun and hopefully an even bigger turn out!

Unibet Open London (Part 2)

28 Mar

Post my exit from the Main Event, the next stop was a bar obviously:) I was rather disappointed at that point but a glass of wine and 10 hugs later I was feeling myself again.

I think that one of my favourite aspects about Unibet Open events is that you are always surrounded by friendly and approachable people and there is always someone on the bench happy to interact and have a chat including organisers and players alike.

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Happy dealers 🙂

Another glass of wine & a few bad beat stories out of the way (not by me:), we decided to head out for some food. I was the only Londoner in the group and felt compelled to take my poker mates somewhere cool and easy.

Busaba – (my most frequently visited Thai restaurant chain in London) seemed like a perfect option for this and I’m glad it was a big hit with the guests too.

Some fresh air, tasty food in a  great company and I ultimately ended up back in action in the £300 Deepstack side event that night:)

We had a pretty insane table draw. It felt like a re-run of the Ambassadors Sit&Go! Unibet sponsored pros Dara and Espen were seated to my right, David K Lappin and Dan Murariu to my left and a very good Scottish player Stuart McNally in between.

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Side Event, sandwiched between Dara & David

Although it was tough competition, it was a fun table at the same time too. We were having plenty of banter and enjoying some top class lines delivered by David who is a comedian at heart (and a very skilled poker player too). He managed to bluff me off QQ in a 5bet pot whilst telling a joke, so well played David:))

That cheeky bugger eventually took the rest of my chips when my KK couldn’t hold versus his JJ all in pre. Unfortunately it was one of those “run bad”days for me…

I joined the rail and watched David, Dara and Stuart making they way to day 2 before heading home at 3.30am…

Saturday morning I met up with the Unibet Digital team for some filming regarding the upcoming Unibet UK Poker Tour leg in Brighton. It was great experience getting involved in some promotion work & getting to meet the team behind the scenes:)

Official work out of the way, I was excited about catching up with my beautiful Dutch friend Dehlia for a coffee and some Snapchat antics of course (Dehlia is the queen of selfies:)

Not long after, I headed back to the Vic to rail my friends who made day 2 of the ME and the £300 side event.

I was especially excited for my friend Kelly Saxby handling a big stack whilst appearing very comfortable at her table. I was hoping for a deep run and it would have been lovely to see a local female player at the final table.

Unfortunately it was not to be for Kelly and a few hours and a couple of coolers later she was out 4 spots away from the money 😦

Here’s a great interview with Kelly post her exit:

Strangely my friends Dara & Andy Hills busted their tourney’s at a very similar time and 4 of us decided to head out for some food and post hand analysis. That’s what happens when you hang out with poker players, you end up living and breathing poker.

I really enjoy discussing key hands and pots with my mates tho and I truly believe it’s one of the easiest and most effective ways to train & improve your thinking which helps to stay ahead of the fast advancing perpetual poker curve.

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Some Lebanese tapas and mint tea later we were back to the casino to rail David Lappin & Stuart Mcnally in the side event.

Well done to David  who eventually finished 11th & super well played Stuart who unfortunately missed out on a trophy but pocketed a healthy £ 7,365 for his efforts;)

It was nearly 7pm and everyone was getting very excited for the Unibet Player’s Party later that night.

We decided to skip the side event for the joys of the big night out in London. My hubby John had a few mates visiting him from Manchester and  was having a few drinks at home. So I invited a few friends of my own and had a mini house party to warm up before heading out 🙂

We got to the The Loop Bar at around 12 and the place was buzzing with groovy 70’s tunes and moves to match. It was a swanky 3 floor venue with disco style main dancing floor.

It was so much fun; great dj & atmosphere all-round and I was glad to see so many poker players who seemed very focused at the tables earlier letting their hair down ( some quite literally!) and having a ball on the dance floor.

I was enjoying the cocktails and the music and no surprise ended up dancing non stop till the lights in the club came on…

You can check out the highlights of the Players Party in the video below:)

Next day was all about chilling & resting my achy feet whilst watching the live stream of the day 3 of the Main Event from a comfort of my home. Ever informative and with the usual accompanying witty and insightful commentary it helped pass a day on the sofa quite nicely.

My friend Tamer Kamel was still in with 13 players left but unfortunately bust in 12th.

I was also rooting for a recreational player called Rauno Tahvonen AKA “Estonian Jesus” who was a fun character to have on the UO London final table and follow on the live stream. He was great for table banter and played his heart out to finish in 6th for £13,650. Not a bad payday for a weekends work for a skateboarding instructor 😉

Very well done to a Belgian Gerret Van Lancker the last man standing and the eventual winner of the Record-Breaking 2017 Unibet Open London leg for £ 71,950.

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And there it was – an end to yet another fantastic & a very successful Unibet Open leg. Well done to all the lovely people involved and I very much look forward to seeing you all in Copenhagen next.

Unibet Open London (Part 1)

7 Mar

I was very excited about the Unibet Open London Leg and had been looking forward to it since my return from their smashing stop in Bucharest last November.

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I was glad to learn that the festival was going to be hosted at the Grosvenor Casino better known as “The Vic” which is my favourite casino in London and my local poker room I visit on almost a weekly basis.

I am fond of this venue for a number of reasons; it is usually very well run and has a great floor staff , the vibe at the tables are friendly & welcoming.

The casino itself is placed in a very central location on Edgware Road surrounded by a vast number of restaurants & coffee shops, and only 10 minutes walk away from all the hustle & bustle of the world famous Bond & Oxford Streets.

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The poker room at The Vic

I had no doubt The Vic was going to be a big hit with the new visitors to London for the Unibet Open.

My own Unibet Open London experience started by me heading to the Hilton Hotel where everyone I know & previously met in Bucharest was staying.

It was a great night catching up with friends and meeting new people too but I was the most excited about seeing Dara, Dave and Ian and having a celebratory drink together to toast their success on officially becoming the new Unibet Ambassadors.

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Ian Simpson (left), Dara O’Kearney & David K Lappin

Congrats once again guys; all 3 of you are very kind, friendly and fun characters as well as very skilled poker players and I believe you are going to be the perfect representatives for Unibet brand.

I headed to the Vic on Wednesday. The place was buzzing on my arrival; there were satellites to the main event and cash games running, also there were last minute prep work being done for the invitational eSports & The Ambassadors Sit&Go’s.

It was truly great atmosphere all around and I enjoyed being a social butterfly once again:)

I ended up meeting a few professional online gamers including the European Hearthstone Champion Thijs Molendijk and the eventual winner of the eSports Battle Royale – Alan Widmann.

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Alan Widmann

All the guys were friendly and approachable regardless of their huge fame in the complex world of gaming (admission here- my knowledge of the world of eSports was zero prior to this evening), so it was interesting getting some insight into their world and understanding some of the parallels with online poker.

Then I got approached by Marc Convey to join him in the commentary booth for the Ambassadors Sit&Go which I happily agreed to.

Marc is always a fun person to hang around with and I was excited about bringing different perspective; female charm and some technical analysis to the table;)

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Enjoying commentary stint with Marc:)

The line up for this event was pretty incredible with many very talented & experienced players with staggering live results under their belts.

The Swedish online sensation Viktor Blom , Romanian superstar Dan Murariu and the Irish legend Dara O’Kearney to name a few. I was looking forward to watching them play some great poker.

My bet for the win was on my close friend Dara; he had the most final table experience and is one of the best ICM specialists in the world. I knew he was likely to play a mistake free session.

There was a £10,000 prizepool with top 3 places getting paid 5k,3k & 2k effectively.

Unibet was also offering some great odds on the players to win or bust first, and I placed a couple of bets on my favourites in each category.

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Unibet Ambassadors Sit&Go

I had a great time and some good banter with Marc in the booth; we even had some Sambucas and managed to send a round of tequila shots to all participants on the feature table:))

The shots were kindly accepted and I was pleased to see the players interacting with each other and having fun (drinking beer, eating bananas and sharing a box of Ferrero:):)

Congrats to Charlotte who eventually outlasted all the storied competitors at the table to take the tournament down.

Here’s the link to replay, the Ambassadors Sit&Go and guest commentary by me starts at 6 hours or so in the stream

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Ian & banana action (left), Charlotte and Espen

It ended up being another late night for me with lots of poker chat, laughter and drinks with both old friends and new.

I took Thursday off to catch up on my sleep, do some yoga and prepare myself a little for the Main Event day 1b the following day. I wanted my head to be clear and feel in the zone for the big game although I have to admit it was very had to reject all the invites to head out.

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Hanging out with my new friends:)

Friday – the Main Event. The Unibet Open always attracts a diverse and international player field which usually leads to a fun atmosphere at the tables and all around the festival. This stop was no exception and there were players from Sweden, Holland, Russia and even Singapore on my starting table.

This event has a superb blind structure; with a 30k starting stack and 1 hour clock I was looking to take my time to settle in and profile the players.

Unfortunately poker didn’t go to plan for me and from the very start I was chipping down rather than chipping up:(

I lost a chunky pot with AQcc when flopping top pair +backdoor flush & straight draws, actually turning a nut flush draw and annoyingly bricking the river. I’m pretty sure the had me outflopped so it was an easy fold on a paired river.

Then I picked up KK in the cutoff and elected to open x2.2, the btn called and a very friendly but super aggro Russian player in the BB decided to squeeze 3bet.

I was 70bb deep at that point and my options were to either call or 4bet with the intention to get it in. The only time I would ever consider flatting in this spot if the player who re-raised was very tight & would only be ever doing this for value only with the very top of his range (the same hand or aces).

However noting that my Russian opponent had proved happy to get AKoff all in pre-flop for for 150bb earlier, he was certainly the kind of player I would be looking to play for stacks with a pair of kings.

So I 4bet, he 5bet shipped, I snapped and to my horror he rolled over a pair of Aces…sigh..

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GG Main Event

It was a very disappointing exit from the tournament I was looking forward for so long but I knew there was more fun to be had and was looking forward to playing some side events and attending the players party next 🙂 TBC…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unibet Open Bucharest

20 Dec

Unibet Open Bucharest was the best poker trip of 2016 for me & yes, just in case you are wondering, that includes the WSOP run too 🙂

Here’s why I enjoyed the whole Unibet Open experience so much:

Destination:

I’d been to Romania previously, but never to Bucharest and I can say honestly it surprised me! It was a cool city with lots to offer.

With a fascinating history (like everywhere some good/ some bad) it was rich in architecture with some lovely old buildings in the old town and of course the hugely imposing Palace of the Parliament which was once the biggest private residence in the world!

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Bucharest’s Old Town

The day after the Ladies Battle Royale ( see previous blog) I spent exploring the city with with Dara O’Kearney and his lovely wife Mireille.

The vibe all around was friendly and the food in delicatessens tasty and the shopping centres pretty expansive.

When a shopping centre has a roller coaster and ice skating rink you may want to limit the food and wine.

Of course we failed at both and after some tasty Lebanese cuisine we headed to stock up on Prosecco for the hotel parties ( we knew there would be parties:) in the local supermarket.

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Enjoying Lebanese with Dara & Mireille

I must confess to a strange fascination with exploring supermarkets in foreign cities across the globe.

The array of different and tasty food, different local choices and people watching is always fun. 

Confession here- favourite supermarket from trips- ‘Kirk’s’ in Grand Cayman; least favourite Mercado 2, Havana… anyway I digress….

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Supermarket in Havana

Other highlights from the day was continual good food, cheap taxis and wine, decent city walks, great company and like any good Lithuanian appreciates readily available beetroot salads…

We were also to discover Bucharest has a fun party nightlife, but more on that later…

Hotel:

It is always nice when you turn up to your hotel and it’s a cheeky 5 star number and the tournament is also being hosted there! The Marriott Bucharest is a stunning hotel with spacious rooms and a good array of facilities.

Poker stressing you out, there’s a spa and pool. Want to keep your body agile as well as your mind, there’s a fitness centre. Hungry, 5 restaurants. Sports betting and want to watch the match- there’s a bar for that also.

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The indoor pool

All poker players know the immediate aftermath of an exit from a tournament is a depressing time, but the environment can sure help pick you up and it did ( no spoiler here) when I ultimately got knocked out.

Basically the opposite of walking out of the Amazon Room at the Rio, thirsty with no decent food nearby and the cab queues…

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One of the bars & chill out zone

Breakfast was amazing and depending on your personal time choice was available at 11am and also if you wanted a really early breakfast on the way home from a particularly big night… well the Romanian KFC one street away from the hotel did a great line of tasty dishes, complete with the next day shame of in room packaging and remaining cold chip 🙂

The Main Event:

With two starting days I decided on day 1b on the Friday. Firstly it gave me a day off to explore Bucharest prior and secondly I prefer Friday players in poker tournaments- it’s always fun with a higher proportion of recreational players playing and their table chat is usually more entertaining. 

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Feature table

Anyway, once I’d sat down to play it was obvious it was shaping up to be the biggest Unibet Open ever and with 603 entries it was!

The generous guarantee was comfortably smashed. With a €1,100 buy in and 30k starting stack, plenty of play was guaranteed with a 1 hour clock.

My starting table included 2 Israelis, 3 Romanians and Gaelle Garcia Diaz who had played in the Unibet Ladies Battle Royale. It was a fun table with plenty of banter, as a minority at the table us ladies were welcomed and somewhat of a novelty.

We were the feature table after a couple of levels, with plenty of action and also a couple of players really determined to get action whatever the cost to their stack!

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Just after busting the Main Event – wine time:)

I was card dead so grinding away, as I ended up doing the majority of the day. A,10 costing me chips vs. KJ sb/bb and a number of other shoddy run- outs for me.

With efficient friendly dealers it always seemed fun regardless and you learn not to get frustrated if spots and hands aren’t coming your way.

Later in the day I was on the feature table again, this time with Renè Dif (vocalist and writer from the band Aqua). 

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Rene Dif on the right

A lively, friendly character I was able to forgive him for the polarising smash hit Barbie Girl from the mid 90s. Polarising because my 13 year old self loved it, but my older self now isn’t so sure…sorry Renè 🙂

After a long days play my ultimate exit was pretty frustrating. I squeezed jammed from the BB with AJ and got called by the early position raiser. I was in great shape against his J8dd but the run out did not play ball and a flush sent me to the rail.

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Traian Bostan – Main Event winner

Have no fear though, the lounge area and drinks were waiting along with a number of unfortunate bust buddies (Dara, Ian Simpson, David Lappin & Kat Arnsby to mention a few) and we had a good time there chatting and drinking until around 4am.

Congrats to Traian Bostan for an awesome performance and the 100k winner’s prize. Nice to see a local lifting the trophy.

Side Events/Fun tournaments:

Busting the main didn’t mean that poker was over for the trip. There was a strong array of side events including a 6-max tournament, PLO, Turbo, Bounty and high roller event.

There were also satellites for the main event and high roller prior to these for live players in Bucharest to join those who satellited online.

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The Unibet Community side event

The side events had the continued friendly feel I’d come to expect on the trip. I especially enjoyed the Unibet Community side event.

It was free to enter as long as you were a community member and lots of fun. With drinks on offer and bounties on various people’s heads I met new interesting community regulars and Unibet staff members also.

Here’s the link to the Unibet Community  if you wish to be a part of this fun experience on the next Unibet Open stop. 

Ambience and Atmosphere:

My earlier points will mean it comes as no surprise to discover the general atmosphere across the events was  fun and friendly.

This has been lacking in recent tournaments I’ve played elsewhere and it reminded of the funner days of poker when I first started to fall in the love with the game.

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Carl & Robin having some poker fun:)

Plenty of banter and people enjoying a beverage, and a lot less Beats headphones and scowls from jaded professionals.

It was nice to be congratulated on my ladies Battle Royale win from complete strangers, and indeed make new friends.

The poker room itself was a beautiful Grand Ballroom, just outside the main lounge. It had plenty of space and places to chill and rail mates.

When busting there was always someone new who wanted to have a chat and I think the community feel has helped everyone feel more inclined to approach others.

We even got to do a Poker Mannequin Challenge featuring over 300 players, staff and media!

 

Coverage and Streams:

You don’t have to take my word for it on the Unibet Open you can stream and enjoy the banter and coverage throughout. Whether watching the live stream of one of the events, or catching up on Pokernews updates from the diligent Frank Op de Woerd, you can always get a good insight into what is happening.

Marc Convey and David Vanderheyden were responsible for the live stream and they always bring the entertainment with witty and insightful commentary and observations.

I was lucky enough to join Marc in the commentary booth along with Dara for a period of streaming for the feature table.

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Marc Convey on the left & Carl, the champ of the Unibet staff event;)

Concurrent to our comments, there is a live chat section suitable for railers, community members, hand opinions, exclusive Unibet Freerolls and even the occasional ( quickly deleted 🙂 trolls…

I enjoyed being part of the commentary albeit briefly and really appreciated how difficult it is to keep the banter and fun flowing so feel free to check Marc and David doing just this on some of the replays on the Unibet Twitch Channel.

Entertainment and the Players Party:

As anyone knows who regularly attends poker tournaments, there are plenty of players who enjoy socialising, a few beers and cocktails, or even just drowning their sorrows/ or indeed celebrating with friends!

With welcome drinks and cocktails as well as live music – Unibet got the ball rolling for all players.

The highlight of the weekend’s fun being the Players Party on the Saturday night with coaches laid on from the hotel to the venue- the aptly named Players Club.

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With Kat & Linnea from the Ladies Event

With drinks vouchers provided for players I had more joy spinning these up from the 2 vouchers I arrived with to a mysterious 13 vouchers remaining in my purse the next day. I’m still bemused by this as I’d had quite a few already on arrival..

The club itself was pretty spectacular with a massive luxury interior, great music and some of the sexiest dancers you could wish to see. I had a great time dancing (see no.2 in favourite past-times) and fun with the girls.

My evening was somewhat derailed after having to down a massive Absinth shot following losing a bet, but a vomit inducing trip to the toilet resolved this.

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Player Club

The club was still rocking when we left around 4am, open until 6am. I told you the Bucharest locals like to party…

Final Thoughts:

Unibet and their staff did a great job in running a successful and fun event. All the Unibet team members were approachable and interacted with the players throughout the event. 

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Unibet Team

Dealers, TD’s and support staff all did a fantastic job of making this poker festival a huge success. 2017 promises to be bigger and better for the Unibet Open. The first main event is in London at the end of February.

I look forward to seeing many of you there for another exciting & successful Unibet stop 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

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